22 July 2009

Eagle Twin —The Unkindness of Crows

Back in March a few friends returned from SXSW with real good things to say about a couple bands they caught down in Austin. One of those bands was Eagle Twin, the new project from former Iceburn "collectivist" Gentry Densley. At the time I was not aware of the connection and, really, there isn't too much to suggest one—aesthetically anyway—between the two. The Iceburn Collective was, for the sake of brevity, a music-major's hardcore band that, over time, morphed into a sprawling avant-garde jazz ensemble. I'm not familiar with their whole catalogue, but what I know never ceases to impress; straight-up punishing, heady, hardcore jazz in the early days to free-form jazz improv later on. Good stuff that I need to get further into, but I digress...

Eagle Twin, on the other hand, is a far cry from the cerebral hardcore-cum-jazz of Densley's former work. Here, with his baritone guitar, he has teamed up with drummer Tyler Smith to form a wondrous hybrid of doom on their debut, The Unkindness of Crows. "A hybrid of 'doom' and what?" You may ask. That's where this duo gets interesting.

As they hail from Salt Lake City, there is a noticeable lack of the "sludginess" found in their peers from more humid climes. Eagle Twin, much like Kyuss or Earth's Hex album, is a strictly desert West affair. Wind howls, blows sand and tumbleweed and carries your scent off to the scavengers who've taken brief refuge from the sun. This is monolithic stone, canyons and salt flats; a harsh, yet majestic landscape that holds a deep echo of banditry, solitude, peace and foreboding. Think of the forgotten country Americana of Hex occasionally interspersed with Kyuss-ian grooves and you'll have a rudimentary idea of Eagle Twin.

While the Kyuss comparisons might be a bit of a stretch, their low-end fire rumble was always Dr. Gonzo tearing through Death Valley. Eagle Twin keeps toward a slower, Earth-like pace, but with more growl and grime—here a mixture of sand and motor oil—seeping through. These towers of doom happen to also be new labelmates, as The Unkindess of Crows is being released by Southern Lord. I highly, highly recommend picking this up and checking them out live, as they'll be touring with Earth (yay!) and Pelican (blehh, boring) later this fall.

YOB—The Great Cessation

Following the breakup of Middian after numerous hassles and setbacks, Mike Scheidt has returned with a reformed YOB and a new album. Though bassist Isamu Sato left for good following 2005's The Unreal Never Lived, drummer Travis Foster is back with new Middian (I'm an idiot) bassist Aaron Reiseberg filling Sato's spot. The result of this collaboration is The Great Cessation, an album that could just as easily been dubbed a Middian record (if not for those sue-happy jackasses in Wisconsin) as much as a YOB record.

Given that I can listen to The Unreal Never Lived repeatedly without ever remotely glimpsing boredom, it would take quite a feat for this trio to top that record with their new release. Still, I'm finding The Great Cessation to be a very enjoyable listen. It's not as demanding a listen, the riffs being generally more straightforward with less overt psychedelia, but there is something to be said for this record's simplicity.

I know a few people whose major complaint with YOB had been their tendency to meander and repeat excessively. There is little of that here; the songs are shorter and more focused, much like those on Middian's sole release, Age Eternal. However, the tempos have slowed again to proper YOB levels, eliciting those strains of dread and feelings of being gradually dragged ever downward.

So far my only issues with this record is the lack of immediately memorable riffage. For all its supposed excesses, The Unreal Never Lived had these in spades and some of the major themes and phrases on The Great Cessation seem more like b-side material from those sessions. They're all still really good, but they don't blow me away. Perhaps with some time and a few more listens I'll find myself humming these at work or something, but at the moment it's still too new.

Despite any minor complaints that I have at the moment, I like the album and consider it a continuation of good form. It's not perfect, but I wouldn't have expected such right off the bat. If these guys gel—which, given their somewhat shared histories shouldn't take long (again, dumb by above implication)—a follow-up to this record could be the cat's tits. Regardless, I'm gonna keep my eye out for any tours because I've never seen YOB live and I wouldn't consider catching these songs any sort of disappointment. This may not end up being one of the top records of the year, but I highly recommend picking it up because it could be a rather impressive grower, if not an immediate "whoa!"

14 July 2009

Joyeux 14-Juillet!

Do something French, like burn a prison to the ground or dress up and clean stuff in a sexy way, like these darlings!

13 July 2009

Fun With Sports Headlines

Normally someone else points these things out to me. Not today, no, I got this one all on my own:

Ronaldinho promises to fill Milan's Kaka gap

Haha, that's funny.

09 July 2009

Bust Out Yr Tape Decks, The Dead Hand Is Here

Good ol' boy and local low-end superstar Tony Gedrich (he of STATS, Extra Life & Archaeopteryx notoriety) has a new cassette tape label called Damage Rituals. Forget vinyl as a lasting medium, you can put these mothers in your pocket (unless you're a giant fat person in which case you'll have to eat a few of those Snickers first) and have a legit excuse to use the forlorn and jilted ghetto blaster that's sitting in your closet.

Mr. Gedrich teamed up with John Delzoppo of Cleveland's Clan of the Cave Bear and put together Dead Hand: Human Machines: a righteous mix of 27 wacked out, awesome bands for your listening nightmares. Some of these bands I knew already but now there are a bunch more I'm going to have to check out because ALL of these tracks are awesome. That's right, there isn't a stinker among them. I'm not going to list all the bands and link to them—everyone is listed on the Damage Rituals myspace page—but among the greats here are VAZ, Yukon, Animal, Zs, Child Abuse and Drunkdriver.

If you're looking for mp3s or any shit like that you're outta luck. This is all magnetic tape lovingly contained in beautiful plastic: material of the future! It sounds like a tape, plays like a tape and if you treat it badly, it will unspool all over your significant other's leg (if you have one, which I highly doubt). Go dig $6.50 out of your digital couch before Billy Mays screams at you from the great beyond and paypal that shit to Tony & John, you will not be disappointed.

02 July 2009

Incredible Fireworks Crotch Fail

Oh man, this is great, just in time for the holiday!

via the consistently incredible Sportress of Blogitude [SoB]

01 July 2009

Sixty Symbols (of Physics & Astronomy)

Tonight I got one of the best assignments I've so far received writing for Tilzy.tv (My review is now up here); I got turned onto Sixty Symbols. A project by Brady Haran, filmmaker-in-residence at Nottingham Science City, Sixty Symbols is a series of short primers that explain the significance of some of the most important concepts in physics and astronomy. Let me tell you it's absolutely fascinating and completely brilliant. At the moment I've only had the time to watch a few of these (and there are still more being produced), but I'll be spending an inordinate amount of my upcoming free time checking the rest out.

To get a taste watch this one one Jupiter: